IN winning 25 games without a loss this girls basketball season, Columbus North has faced big teams and it has faced quick teams.
The Bull Dogs faced a big and quick team in its win against nationally-ranked Chicago Whitney Young. But not yet this season has top-ranked North seen a team as big and quick with an outside shooter as it will Saturday in No. 2 Bedford North Lawrence.
The Bull Dogs will meet the Stars (24-0) about 12:30 p.m. in the second semifinal of the Bedford North Lawrence Regional.
“They have components in a variety of places on the floor,” North coach Pat McKee said. “Most teams will have one piece or two pieces or three pieces. They have the inside presence, they have the perimeter 3-point threat, they have the mid-range kids who can drive and pull up. Most teams don’t have all those pieces, so it’s a challenge.”
No. 9 Franklin Central (19-4) and Castle (19-4) will play in the first semifinal at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The championship game will be at 8 p.m.
But the Bull Dogs’ focus is squarely on BNL. North beat the Stars twice last year, including in the regional final, but the teams haven’t met this season.
“I think it’s going to be who defends the other team and is able to get stops,” BNL coach Kurt Godlevske said. “They have the perimeter players, which is an issue for us, and we have the post players. I think it’s going to come down to who can impose their style on the other team.”
The Stars are led by sophomore post players Jenna Allen and Dominique McBryde, both of whom average 14.2 points a game. The 6-3 Allen adds 7.7 rebounds and shoots 68 percent from the field, while the 6-2 McBryde averages 5.6 rebounds and shoots 67 percent from the field.
BNL also has a 3-point threat in junior Brittani Rizzi, who averages 12.0 points and shoots 43 percent from 3-point range. Throw in sophomore Alexa Bailey (6.2 ppg, 3.6 apg) and junior point guard Sammy Dillman (5.9 ppg, 3.0 apg), and the Stars have five players who can score.
“I think it’s been the play of our posts and our guards,” Godlevske said. “They’ve done a wonderful job of working together offensively, and it’s allowed us defensively to be able to rely on our posts to defend the paint.”
“They’re really good, and we have very little margin for error,” McKee said. “If we play poorly and they play well, it will be a short Saturday. If we play well, we’ll battle and compete, and hopefully we finish plays and it comes out our way.”
BNL will try to slow down North sophomore Ali Patberg (18.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 4.1 apg) and junior Tayler Goodall (14.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.4 apg). Junior Kelsey Cunningham averages 8.1 points, while senior Hanna Ballard adds 6.7 points and sophomore Hannah Poindexter chips in 3.3 points.
Goodall and Cunningham, who play summer basketball with Dillman, shoot 45 percent and 43 percent, respectively, from 3-point range.
“I just think Ali Patberg is a problem in all its own,” Godlevske said. “She’s able to beat you off the dribble and pull-up jumpers. Tayler Goodall is tough and gritty. You add that with Kelsey and Hanna’s overall athleticism, and they’re tough to match up with as a team.”
Patberg has played summer basketball with Allen, McBryde and Bailey for several years on a team coached by Bailey’s father, former BNL and Indiana University star Damon Bailey, and Patberg’s father, Ron. Ron Patberg, Damon Bailey and Allen’s father, Jeff, are assistant coaches for the high school teams.
“The girls know each other well,” Godlevske said. “They’ve known each other since they were little. Then, you throw in that Ron and Damon and Jeff Allen have coached together for years, they probably feel they could swap sides and feel comfortable either way.”